Too Hot To Handel:

The Gospel Messiah
Breaking the classical music sound barrier since 1993

“Listeners hooted, whistled and shouted their approval after every number. The ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ was so ecstatically received, it was repeated as an encore.”

—The New York Times

Message from Marin

Royal Albert Hall Concert Etiquette

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About the Show

From the first familiar strains—music you hear year after year, but suddenly with a jazzy spin—to the driving and exuberant “Hallelujah Chorus,” audiences will fall back in love with the music of Handel’s most famous oratorio through the soulful voice of Too Hot To Handel: The Gospel Messiah!

Marin Alsop, with colleagues Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson reimagined Handel’s MessiahToo Hot to Handel captures the essential core of Handel’s famous piece and reinterprets it with chords of R&B, jazz, and gospel. The end result is a dynamic and uplifting celebration that must be experienced to be appreciated.

“New” world première: December 18, 1993, in New York City

Original Concept by Marin Alsop
Co-Arranged by Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson
The Concordia Orchestra, Marin Alsop, conductor
Morgan State University Choir, Dr. Nathan Carter, director
Featured Solo Vocalists: Vivian Cherry, Lillias White, and Thomas Young

…perhaps the jazziest, most soulful reinterpretation of Handel’s Messiah you’ll ever hear.

New York Post

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Perform the Show

Take the enigma out of the classical music experience! Too Hot To Handel takes Handel’s omnipresent Messiah—heard in churches, concerts, commercials, and radio stations—and gives it new life, infusing the perennial favorite with jazz, rock, R&B, and pop sounds that will speak directly to audiences of every type of music!

Transform the Concert Experience and Appeal to New Audiences!

How can you bring Too Hot To Handel to your audiences?

  • Attract new audiences to your concert hall…or take your musicians out into the community! Get your community involved in experiencing this reimagined holiday classic that they all know and love.
  • Switch things up this year! Replace your regular Messiah performances at Christmas or Easter with Too Hot To Handel: The Gospel Messiah!!!
  • Already have some Christmas programming in place? Add excerpts from Too Hot To Handel to the line-up, for a reduced rate!
  • Introduce children to a fusion of styles and show them how classical music is just as relevant today as ever! Program well-known excerpts from Too Hot To Handel as part of your educational series.
  • Smaller venues? Fewer musicians? Not a problem! Use the full orchestra or just a rhythm section to create the exact mood that you want from your performance.


Hire Materials

All orchestral materials for Too Hot To Handel are available on hire. Contact the Music Administrator using the form below with all rental inquiries and perusal requests. Please note that the rental set will include one full score and one piano-vocal solos score, in addition to all instrumental parts.

All choral materials, to include SATB choral books and piano-vocal solos scores, are available for purchase from Educational Music Service.

Note: If you plan to perform only excerpts, please contact the Music Administrator using the form below prior to purchasing any choral materials, as extracted choral materials may be available for hire.

Upcoming Performances

December 16, 2023

January 13, 2024

The Creative Team

This reworking of Handel’s majestic oratorio deserves every bit of attention it will get, for it’s much more than simply a swing-tinged embellishment of a centuries-old masterpiece. Musical arrangers Bob Christianson and Gary Anderson have vigorously re-imagined the work, redefining it in terms of black musical tradition.

Chicago Tribune

In the Press